Everyday Ethics

Today in NYC there’s a primary runoff election to decide who’ll be the next democratic candidates for city comptroller and public advocate. And, in a city of 8 million, something like a whopping 170,000 are expected to vote. As the New York Times’ Clyde Haberman drily puts it, this is about the size of the audience of a Yankees game.

So here’s my question: Is it more, less, or similarly inexcusable not to vote in these types of little, local elections?

Full disclosure: I never have.

Why? Simple…

I don’t vote when I don’t feel I know enough about a candidate to make an informed decision. And I don’t care to inform myself about the excruciatingly dull ins and outs of the public advocate’s job.

I should. His (or, hypothetically her) actions will have a direct effect on my life in this city in one way or another at one time or another. The comptroller holds the financial reins of the city’s budget in many important ways. And the public advocate — well, he’s next in line to be mayor if our current one should have an accident, scandal, or… whatnot.

Bottom line: A participatory democracy can’t work without participation. Anything else is pure moral laziness. It behooves me to take the small amount of time required to find out what these local pols do and learn a little about their individual records of public service.

Will I? I’m not sure, but there are still several hours ’til the polls close…. 

When elections next come to your neck of the woods, will you?

UPDATE: 5:01 PM: I voted! The veil of guilt has lifted. Only took 2 minutes, as there was barely anyone at the polls. Duty discharged, conscience clear… at least for today. Tune in next time….


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